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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Wyoming Elk

 

2018 Wyoming elk application strategy article
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Wyoming's 2018 elk application overview

Jump to: New for 2018 State Information Elk Breakdown Draw System Hidden Gem Areas Points System

Over the past several years Wyoming has been touted as having the best balance of quality and quantity for elk hunting. While this statement is probably still relevant (when comparing it to other states like Utah, Nevada, or Arizona) I would suggest that the pendulum may be at a tipping point.

Let me explain, first and foremost Wyoming increased the cost of their nonresident regular and special elk permits by 17% for this coming year. They also increased the cost for residents by $5. The total cost for a nonresident regular elk tag is now $692 and $1,268 for a special tag (not including other fees). In our opinion, there are very few hunts in the state that offer a hunt equal to the cost of a special permit. Secondly, Wyoming has a bonus point system which is now 12 years old. As part of their point system, they allowed hunters to simply purchase and bank points without applying. Convenient as it is, hunters have been banking points for years without applying and in many cases are starting to add their applications to the growing pool and permits are getting that much harder to draw. Finally, Wyoming still doesn't allow a nonresident to hunt in a wilderness area without a guide/outfitter or resident guide to accompany them. These three factors have us scratching our head wondering about our own application strategies for Wyoming.

So, what does this all mean?

It's not all doom and gloom, Wyoming is still a great state to hunt elk. The elk populations remain at or above objectives in almost every area of the state. Every year a handful of quality bulls hit the ground, but it's probably time for a lot of applicants to take a hard look at your preference points, consider your objective and make some realistic decisions.

Note: You may begin applying for elk in Wyoming on January 2, 2018. The application deadline for Wyoming elk is January 31, 2018, by 11:59 p.m. MST and the application is entirely online.



Why Wyoming for elk in 2018

Wyoming is more liberal with their resident/nonresident license split than other states, offering 84% to residents and 16% to nonresidents. In addition, elk populations are stable and remain either at or above their objectives throughout the bulk of the state. Even with the bad winter in the western portion of the state last year, elk herds emerged in great shape. Those lucky enough to draw tags and head into the field in 2018 should have plenty of opportunities to see and harvest a branch antlered bull.

Likely the best opportunity that Wyoming provides is the ability to hunt both the archery and rifle hunts with the same permit. For the most part, hunters who draw a Type 1 permit can buy the archery stamp and hunt the September archery dates and return to hunt with a rifle if they were previously unsuccessful. Wyoming also boasts very good general season elk hunting opportunities.



New for 2018

Fee changes

  • For 2018 there will be significant increases in application fees, license fees, and preference point fees.

Personal data confidentiality

  • For 2018 applicants can opt-in to designate their email address, date of birth, and telephone number so your application can be released during a public information request. If you do not want to be contacted by guides/outfitters etc. be sure that you do not opt-in.

Other new items

  • When submitting your application you will be able to select to purchase a conservation stamp or elk management stamp if you are successful in the draw. If you are successful and selected to purchase the stamp(s) your credit card will be charged the appropriate fee after the draw is concluded.
  • New Area 63 Type 2 Elk hunt valid within the Washakie Wilderness.

State information
 

2017 Wyoming bull elk taken with Big Horn Outfitters
A great bull elk taken with Big Horn Outfitters in 2017 — A goHUNT Business Member

View important information and an overview of the Wyoming rules/regulations, the draw system, preference points, Super Tag and Super Tag Trifecta, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the Wyoming Elk Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

Wyoming State Profile Wyoming Elk Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Wyoming elk licenses sold - 2017

Important dates and information

  • You may begin applying for elk on January 2, 2018 at 8 a.m. MST
  • Deadline to apply is January 31, 2018 by 11:59 p.m. MST
  • Apply online here.
  • Deadline to amend or withdraw your elk application is February 5 By 11:59 p.m. MST
  • Draw results will be available around February 28
  • Refunds for unsuccessful applicants will be returned to the credit card that was used.
  • Preference point only purchase period is from July 2 - October 31, 2018
  • Failure to apply or purchase preference points for two consecutive years will cause all previous points accumulated to be purged. 
  • You cannot return an elk license once you have drawn it
  • The application period for leftover deer, elk and antelope drawing is June 25 – June 29, 2018.
  • Results of leftover drawing available July 12, 2018.
  • Licenses remaining after the initial drawing and the leftover drawing go on sale on a first come first served basis on July 16, 2018. 

State-by-state elk tag fee 2018

Amount to remit

Nonresident elk fees for 2018

Item Regular - Adult Special - Adult Youth
Full Price Elk $759 $15 - App Fee
$692 - License Fee
$52 - Pref. Point Fee
$1,335 $15 - App Fee
$692 - License Fee
$576 - Special Fee
$52 - Pref. Point Fee
$300 $15 - App Fee
$275 - License Fee
$10 - Pref. Point Fee
Reduced Price
Elk - cow/calf
$303 $15 - App Fee
$288 - License Fee
N/A N/A $115 $15 - App Fee
$100 - License Fee

 

Resident elk fees for 2018

Item Elk - Adult Elk - Youth
Full Price Elk $62 $5 - App Fee
$57 - License Fee
$30 $5 - App Fee
$25 - License Fee
Reduced Price
Elk - cow/calf
$48 $5 - App Fee
$43 - License Fee
$25 $5 - App Fee
$25 - License Fee

If unsuccessful in the draw you will be refunded the cost of the permit. You will not be refunded the application fee or the preference point fee. The archery stamp also took a jump in cost this year and is now $72 for nonresidents.

Wilderness areas

Wyoming contains vast expanses of public land. BLM and United States Forest Service lands stretch on for miles in many areas of the state. Some of the most scenic and wild landscapes in the lower 48 can be found in Wyoming, although nonresidents cannot hunt portions of it on their own. A nonresident cannot legally hunt a Designated Wilderness Area on their own. They must be accompanied by a licensed Wyoming Outfitter or licensed Wyoming resident. A Wyoming resident guide license may be obtained from the WGFD by any resident possessing a valid big or trophy game license. A resident guide may only take up to two (2) nonresidents in a wilderness area per year. There is no cost to obtain a resident guide license. A resident guide cannot accept any gratuity or compensation. If you are a nonresident who would like to hunt within a wilderness area there are many good options for outfitters. A complete list of outfitters in Wyoming can be found in our Outfitter Directory. Wyoming residents may hunt wilderness areas with no restrictions.

Type 1 vs Type 9 and the Archery Stamp
 

2017 Wyoming bull elk taken with Shoshone Lodge Outfitters
A wide bull elk that was taken with Shoshone Lodge Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

What does "Type" mean? Wyoming has a "type" classification for their licenses. The type is a limitation or classification of the license. The type can indicate the season/weapon, the portion of an area where the permit is valid or the sex of the animal. The most common are the Type 1, Type 2 and Type 9. The Type 1 license is a full price "antlered or any" rifle elk license. As previously noted, most Type 1 licenses (see table below for restrictions) will also allow the permit holder to hunt the archery season if they also purchase the archery license/stamp.

The Type 9 license is a full price archery only license, meaning the license holder can only hunt during the archery season dates of that license. Another common license type is Type 2, which is typically a variation of season dates or boundaries within a hunt area that you can hunt. Some Type 2 licenses and will also allow the license holder to hunt all of the valid areas during the bowhunt, be sure to check the regulations to clarify. Keep in mind that not every area is open to the archery stamp (whether it has a Type 9 or not), it has to be listed in Section 3 of the elk regulations.

For more information on Wyoming license types, check out the Wyoming State Profile.

2018 Early Archery Elk Seasons

Hunt Areas Type Season
Dates
Limitations
1, 7-10, 12, 13, 15, 16,
19, 21-25, 27, 28, 30-33, 47-49,
54-56, 58, 59, 61-64, 83, 87-96,
99, 100, 102-111, 113, 114, 116-118,
120, 122, 124-128, 130
All Sept. 1-30 Valid in the entire area(s)
3 All Sept. 1-14 Valid in the entire area(s)
11, 36, 37, 67-69 All Sept. 15-30 Valid in the entire area(s)
60, 70, 71, 73, 97, 98 All Sept. 1-19 Valid in the entire area(s)
78, 80-82, 84-86 All Sept. 1-25 Valid in the entire area(s)
6 General Sept. 1-30 Valid off of National Forest
6 1 Sept. 1-30 Valid in the entire area(s)
34 1 Sept. 1-30 Valid in the entire area(s)
35 1 Sept. 15-30 Valid in the entire area(s)
41, 45 1 Sept. 15-30 Valid in the entire area(s)

 



New INSIDER enhancement coming

New in 2018 goHUNT will be offering antlerless elk draw odds for Wyoming and many other states. If your ultimate goal is to fill the freezer, an antlerless elk permit may be just the ticket. Type 4 and 5 are Antlerless Full Price licenses. Type 4 and 5 are full price permits, as such be aware that if you list one of these as a first choice and draw it you will lose all accumulated points. You can draw type 4 & 5 licenses as a 2nd choice while retaining and building points. Type 6 and 7 are Reduced Price Cow or Calf licenses. There is no preference points for these, simply a random draw. Also of interest, a hunter can have up to three elk licenses in a year. A hunter could apply for a full price Type 1, 2, 9 or General season limited quota and a Type 4 or 5 (cow/calf) as a 2nd or 3rd choice on the same initial application. They can also apply for a reduced price Type 6, 7 or 8 in the reduced price draw which is a separate application. That reduced price cow elk application is typically due by May 31. Since it is a separate application from the bull elk application, hunters will not lose or gain points when applying for cows.



Wyoming's 2018 elk breakdown

From the more traditional elk habitat in the western portion of the state, to the plains and rolling basins of the south and east, populations are generally good. The winter of 2016/2017 claimed more elk than a typical winter across western Wyoming but overall elk are a hearty animal and the die-off was not enough to alter seasons.

Wyoming elk harvest success - 2018

Current elk herd condition

As a whole, the state of Wyoming is above population objectives. Here is a basic breakdown by regions:

  • Casper: Elk numbers remain at or above objective levels in all herds in the Casper Region.
  • Cody: Elk numbers in the areas south of Cody (Areas 61-64) are approaching population objectives due to a record harvest in recent years. Hunt areas surrounding and north of Cody are near population objectives. The bighorns areas all are at or exceeding desired population numbers.
  • Green River: The Green River office manages 12 hunt areas and all but Areas 102-105 are over population objectives. Those areas that are near the objective and will be more conservatively managed in the coming years.
  • Jackson: The Jackson herds are a tale of two stories. Low calf recruitment in the northernmost hunt areas bordering Yellowstone and the Teton Wilderness has caused a reduction in overall numbers. On the flip side, herds that occupy areas near Grand Teton National Park and Jackson have nearly double the recruitment rate of those herds to the north. The overall herd is just under objective, but the southern hunt areas are carrying the bulk of the numbers.
  • Lander: All herds are either at or exceeding objective across the Lander region.
  • Laramie: The bulk of the elk herds in the Laramie region are above their population objectives. Herds are also exhibiting high bull:cow ratios and calf production have been excellent.
  • Pinedale: All herds are either at or exceeding objective across the Pinedale region.
  • Sheridan: By and large, elk populations remain at or over objective throughout the region due to large herds finding refuge on private lands early in the season, which makes it more difficult for most hunters. Overall, good numbers of elk with some areas difficult to access later into the any legal weapon seasons.

10 year Wyoming elk harvest numbers - 2018

The impact of wolves on Wyoming’s elk herds

The decline in elk populations along the western portion of the state has been well documented, although biologists do believe herds have begun to stabilize in recent years. Wolves were finally removed from the endangered species list on April 25, 2017. Wolf management is now being led by the state of Wyoming and hunting is actively being used as a tool to manage populations. The state has defined 12 trophy zones located surrounding Yellowstone National Park. Within those 12 zones, seasons generally run from October 1 through December 31. Each area has a set quota, once hit, the season will be closed. The total quota for all 12 areas is 44 wolves. Hunters can purchase a wolf permit over the counter and harvest one wolf per calendar year.

Outside of those zones, wolves are managed as a predatory animal and can be harvested without a license any time of year. There are currently an estimated 377 wolves statewide with 269 of those occurring outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation. With hunting currently being used as a management tool, elk herds could improve or at a minimum, maintain current numbers.

During the 2017 season, hunters took 44 wolves out of the Trophy Quota Zone and 32 wolves from the Predatory Zone.

Grizzly country

The initial recovery plan called for the minimum population of 500 grizzly bears. Since 2000, the population has continued to steadily grow and expand well beyond the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone. The most recent estimate of the population is approximately 700 grizzly bears, but it’s very likely larger than that. The impact on elk populations from grizzly predation is debated, but it certainly is not helping those areas. Perhaps the bigger issue is grizzly/human conflict which has increased since the early 2000’s.

In late June, the United States Fish And Wildlife Service proposed removing the Yellowstone grizzly population from the endangered species list and on July 31 they were officially removed. Wyoming Game and Fish are currently exploring management options, including hunting. Time will tell if management is truly turned over to the state and if grizzly hunting will be permitted in the coming years. At least, for now, the option is still on the table.
 

Wyoming grizzly bear range in 1990 and 2016
Wyoming grizzly bear range in 1990 and 2016. Source: Wyoming Fish and Game Department

Trophy potential

Wyoming is not a trophy elk state in the sense that Utah, Arizona, or Nevada is. Certainly, Wyoming will produce a number or 360”+ bulls every year but most hunters should not plan on harvesting bulls of that caliber even on the best hunts in the state. The areas that do regularly produce trophy bulls are most often comprised of remote wilderness terrain, are largely private or are extremely limited in license numbers. Hunt areas concentrated around Yellowstone National Park; 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64 all have a history of producing nice bulls, but they also contain a fair amount of wilderness. Hunt areas like 7, 16, 19, 22 and 24 have been hotbeds for better bulls over the past several years, but access and private lands pose a real problem for most hunters. Areas 30, 31, 32, 100, 124 all have ample public land and good bulls, but the odds of drawing a permit with max points are less than 15% for those.

Based on those factors, it’s important to note that a do-it-yourself nonresident hunter faces a tremendous challenge in harvesting a giant bull in Wyoming. We would encourage you to be realistic when considering your options. If you are truly interested in hunting a giant bull, you may consider a private land or guided hunt. On the flip side, almost every hunt area in the state can and does produce bulls in the 300-330” range, including the general season areas.



The Wyoming draw system

Wyoming has one of the most liberal nonresident/resident splits for elk permits, offering 16% of their elk permits to nonresidents. Residents get 84% of the cut and those permits are randomly allocated with no point system. Wyoming has a preference point system for nonresidents. A preference point is gained every year that you apply and are unsuccessful in the draw, or you may purchase a point only from July 2 to Oct 31. For the 2018 elk draw the max number of preference points is 12.

For the nonresident cut, they break their permits into a Regular (60%) and Special (40%) draw. The Regular and Special licenses are identical other than a nonresident will pay more to go into the Special draw in exchange for potentially better odds of drawing. 

Regular vs special draw: unlocking the system

Again, nonresident licenses are broken into two categories in Wyoming: the Regular Draw and the Special Draw, which costs an additional $576 (with other fees added). To show you how this works, let’s say an area has 10 licenses available. 60% of these licenses will go for the regular limited quota draw, 40% to the special draw. For the six licenses in the regular draw, 75% will go to maximum point holders who have applied for that area. The remaining 25% are awarded randomly. The four licenses in the special draw will be awarded using the same 75/25 split as the regular draw. You can see this breakdown in the image below.

Wyoming tag allocations - Regular vs. Special draw

In some cases going into the Special draw can help you draw a permit a year or so sooner.

Example:

Here is an example of how putting in the for the special draw can be beneficial. This is elk Area 38 Type 1 - Tongue.

Nonresident Area 38 Type 1 Elk Regular Draw - 27% odds with 6 points, 100% at 6.5 points

Wyoming Area 38 elk regular draw odds

Nonresident Area 38 Type 1 Elk Special Draw - 81% odds with 5 points, 100% at 5.5%

Wyoming Area 38 elk special draw odds

For the high demand areas/hunts the odds for the Regular and Special draw have been almost identical. It will be interesting to see if the price increase this year will change that slightly. Be sure to review your selections to see if the odds of the Special license are good enough to justify the additional $576. You can check out your draw odds here. Unlike many states, where if you don’t have the points you have no chance of getting a tag, Wyoming gives hunters that don't have the necessary points a chance to draw a permit at random. In the example given above, the percentages less than 100 are the odds of drawing that tag at random. Even if you don’t draw this year, you can get a preference point to increase your chances next year.

Let’s look at an example to further explain the breakdown.

Area 041 Type 1 Elk

Total Licenses: 361
Total Resident Licenses: 302 (84%)
Total Nonresident Licenses: 59 (16%)

Nonresident Regular Draw Preference Point Licenses: 35 (60%)

  • Nonresident Reg Draw Max Preference Point Licenses: 35 x.75(%) = 27
  • Nonresident Reg Draw Random Preference Point Licenses: 35 x .25(%) = 8

Nonresident Special Draw Preference Point Licenses: 24 (40%)

  • Nonresident Special Draw Max Preference Point Licenses: 24 x .75(%) = 18
  • Nonresident Special Draw Random Preference Point Licenses: 24 x .25(%) = 6

In some cases, there are not enough nonresident permits total to have any filter down into the random pool. If you are below the max point line, be sure to apply for an area/hunt that has a permit available in the random pool, otherwise, you are essentially wasting your application in the draw. Also, it’s worth noting that in the random license drawing it’s completely random with no weight given to the number of preference points you have. Applicants in the random draw have an equal chance, whether you have 0 points or 12 points.

Up to six applicants can apply together in a group application for elk. Nonresidents and residents cannot apply together as a group. Preference points are added and divided by the number of applicants in the group and will go into the draw with that exact number out to the 4th decimal place. Example: a group of four people with 5,10, 9, and 11 points (5+10+9+11= 35 / 4 = 8.75 points)



General Season Elk

The general season elk license might be Wyoming’s best hidden gem. Of the 101 elk areas, 51 of them offer general season hunts. In addition, general season licenses are Type 1, meaning you can hunt both the archery and rifle hunts on most hunt areas. The most recent harvest data suggest that general season success was nearly 28%. Another interesting statistic, of that 28% success, 90% occurred during the firearm hunt. Is that because the bowhunting is extremely tough? We would argue it’s much more likely that there are very few archers taking the chance to bowhunt. Wyoming's general archery elk season might be one of the best opportunities to hunt bulls during the rut with minimal hunting pressure. There are general seasons hunt areas scattered across the state, but the best hunting seems to be in the Medicine Bow mountain areas in the south and the hunt areas along the Idaho border in western Wyoming, unless you can gain access to the largest private land areas in the central and eastern portion of the state, there is some good hunting in those as well. Every year a handful of true trophy bulls are harvested on general season hunt areas but almost all of them are capable of producing 300” + bulls.

From our perspective, general hunt areas are going to become a much more alluring option in the coming years for the nonresident crowd as more applicants begin to realize how limited the opportunities are if you didn’t begin building points many years ago.

General Elk Nonresident elk
(Regular)
Nonresident elk
(Special)
Resident
Pref. Pt. Odds 4% w/<2 pt 75% w/<1 pt Over-the-counter
Random Odds 14% 30% Over-the-counter

If you decide to hunt a general season area, we have included a list of our top general season hunt areas.

goHUNT Hitlist For General Season Elk Areas

Area Trophy potential Bull:Cow Ratio Harvest
Success
% Public
Land
Area 12 320"+ 42:100 26% 58%
Area 13 320"+ 39:100 35% 74%
Area 15 320"+ 39:100 29% 62%
Area 21 310"+ 39:100 27% 73%
Area 56 340"+ 48:100 40% 87%
Area 59 350"+ 48:100 35% 91%
Area 60 340"+ 48:100 64% 100%
Area 67 310"+ 29:100 35% 90%
Area 69 310"+ 29:100 39% 95%
Area 73 310"+ No Info 27% 96%
Area 82 310"+ 38:100 31% 99%
Area 83 310"+ 38:100 27% 100%
Area 84 310"+ 25:100 27% 94%
Area 85 310"+ 25:100 32% 94%
Area 87 320"+ 16:100 32% 87%
Area 89 310"+ 19:100 29% 100%
Area 92 310"+ 41:100 26% 53%
Area 94 320"+ 41:100 27% 75%

Overall, the general season elk license can offer a good hunt and if you find yourself with a few points, perhaps even 5 or less, you may take a long look at your options, point creep, and consider the general season license.

Wyoming residents can simply purchase a general season elk tag beginning July 16, 2018.

Limited Entry Choices

By and large, the limited entry hunts are managed to offer hunters a chance at a better bull or at least limit the amount of pressure in the field. As you might imagine, the better areas for trophy quality and public access are harder to draw. There are a variety of limited entry hunts and for nonresidents there’s a hunt that you could draw with any given number of preference points. But as previously stated, there is always a reason why some hunts are easier or harder to draw. Wyoming does randomly allocate 25% of the nonresident licenses for each hunt, provided there were enough tags in the first place to have some bleed down into the random draw. If you have less than max points for the hunt that you are interested in, it may pay to review and apply for a hunt that at least has a random permit available.

goHUNT Hitlist Limited Entry Hunt Areas To Consider for 340" or Better Bulls

Area-Type Trophy potential Bull:Cow Ratio Harvest
Success
Pts. Req.
2017 (Reg)
Pts. Reg. 
2017 (Spec.)
Random Tag(s)
Available
7-1 350"+ 36:100 63% <9 (38%) 8 (73%) Yes
16-1 340"+ 45:100 75% 11 (75%) 10 (15%) Yes
16-2 340"+ 45:100 68% 9 (21%) 9 (26%) Yes
19-1 340"+ 36:100 58% <9 (100%) 7 (33%) Yes
22-1 340"+ 60:100 87% 11 (3.9%) 11 (17%) No
24-1 330"+ 23:100 61% 11 (73%) 10 (86%) Yes
31-1 340"+ 38:100 84% 11 (6.9%) 11 (11%) Yes
51-1 340"+ 80:100 68% 8 (16%) <5 (100%) Yes
51-9 340"+ 80:100 17% 3 (61%) <2 (100%) Yes
53-1 340"+ 80:100 60% 0%* 10 (50%) No
53-2 340"+ 80:100 19% 7 (68%) 7 (100%) Yes
53-9 340"+ 80:100 17% 8 (100%) 8 (50%) No
54-1 350"+ 80:100 79% 11 (21%) 11 (29%) No
54-2 350"+ 80:100 58% 8 (100%) 7 (100%) No
54-9 350"+ 80:100 38% <11 (100%) 7 (25%) No
55-1 340"+ 48:100 68% 7 (100%) <4 (100%) Yes
55-9 340"+ 48:100 26% 2 (100%) 0 (100%) No
56-1 340"+ 48:100 60% 11 (6.3%) 11 (5.9%) No
56-9 340"+ 48:100 31% <3 (100%) 0 (100%) No
58-1 350"+ 48:100 58% 11 (19%) 11 (100%) No
59-1 350"+ 48:100 100% 11 (9.1%) 11 (13%) Yes
59-9 350"+ 48:100 29% <6 (100%) 0 (100%) No
60-9 340"+ 48:100 36% 3 (100%) 2 (100%) No
61-1 340"+ 48:100 75% 9 (100%) <9 (100%) Yes
61-2 340"+ 48:100 94% 10 (75%) 11 (40%) No
62-1 340"+ 21:100 64% <11 (100%) 9 (100%) Yes
63-1 350"+ 21:100 55% 11 (47%) 10 (15%) Yes
63-2 350"+ 21:100 New 2018 New 2018 New 2018 New 2018
64-2 350"+ 21:100 35% 9 (75%) 8 (35%) Yes
100-1 340"+ 52:100 91% 11 (9.8%) 11 (14%) Yes
124-1 350"+ NA 94% 11 (3.5%) 11 (3.9%) No

* We double checked with the state and as it turns out, Wyoming apparently went against their percent splits and leaned toward the side of making more money. So instead of putting that permit in the regular draw, they put it into the special draw and got the extra revenue.


How to uncover hidden gem Wyoming elk areas
 

2017 Wyoming archery bull elk taken with Big Horn Outfitters
2017 Wyoming archery bull elk taken with Big Horn Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Wyoming is 12 years deep in preference point system now and the top tier hunt areas are fairly easy to pick out and tough to draw. Utilizing our Filtering 2.0 tool; INSIDERS can use the trophy potential, odds, season, public land %, and harvest success to explore the possibilities. You’ll begin to see a pattern. Easier to draw hunts are typically one of the following, Type 9 (archery only), mostly private land or designated wilderness, access is tough, or the quality isn’t great. Learning to work within those parameters is where you’ll have to find the hidden gems.

Pick up a bow and arrow and become proficient with it. Pick a hunt area with good trophy potential, harvest success and spend the time researching and studying maps and access. Ask landowners for permission to hunt or to access public lands. Be prepared to do what it takes to access that public land, whether that’s by backpacking, biking, horseback, or even by air. Finally, we put the bulk of our research into DIY hunting opportunities, but in a state like Wyoming it may be worth considering going on an outfitted hunt, especially if you have built up alot of points. There are some very good hunts available if you can gain access into private land or wilderness. With some work, there are some good opportunities.

goHUNT Hidden Gem Elk Areas - Best Any Weapon Hunts If You Have 2 to 8 points

Area-Type Trophy potential Bull:Cow Ratio Harvest
Success
Pts. Req.
2017 (Reg)
Pts. Reg. 
2017 (Spec.)
Random Tag(s)
Available
11-1 310"+ 42:100 52% 7 (52%) 5 (37%) Yes
19-2 340"+ 36:100 56% 6 (36%) 6 (100%) Yes
25-1 320"+ 35:100 51% 5 (93%) 3 (46%) Yes
34-1 330"+ 28:100 48% 3 (38%) 3 (73%) Yes
38-1 330"+ 34:100 40% 6 (27%) 5 (81%) Yes
39-1 330"+ 34:100 65% 4 (19%) 2 (67%) Yes
39-9 330"+ 34:100 28% 8 (72%) 7 (67%) Yes
40-1 330"+ 34:100 55% <7 (100%) <4 (100&) Yes
40-9 330"+ 34:100 12% 6 (100%) 6 (28%) Yes
41-1 330"+ 32:100 45% <5 (39%) <4 (100%) Yes
48-1 320"+ 28:100 67% 3 (100%) 3 (46%) Yes
49-1 330"+ 28:100 70% 8 (61%) 7 (16%) Yes
51-1 340"+ 80:100 68% 8 (16%) <5 (100%) Yes
51-2 340"+ 80:100 57% 4 (100%) 0 (100%) No
51-9 340"+ 80:100 19% 3 (61%) <2 (100%) Yes
55-1 340"+ 48:100 68% 7 (100%) <4 (100%) Yes
55-9 340"+ 48:100 26% 2 (100%) 0 (100%) No
56-9 340"+ 48:100 31% <3 (100%) 0 (100%) No
59-9 350"+ 48:100 29% <6 (100%) 0 (100%) No
60-9 340"+ 48:100 36% 3 (100%) 2 (100%) No
84-1 310"+ 25:100 50% 3 (100%) 0 (50%) No
120-1 330"+ No Info 68% 8 (68%) 7 (100%) Yes
122-1 330"+ No Info 72% 5 (100%) 2 (78%) Yes
GEN 300"+ Varies 28% <2 (18%) 0 (30%) Yes

 

Five-year B&C entry trends for Wyoming elk

Areas listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Areas in this table are included if any part of the area is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Wyoming's top Boone & Crockett producing
counties since 2010 for typical elk

County No. of
entries
Areas found
within county
Park 15 5153, 54, 55, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 6366
Sweetwater 5 24, 30, 31, 32, 98, 99, 100, 102, 105, 107, 124
Teton 3 60, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 77, 78, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 93, 95
Fremont 3 24, 25, 27, 28, 47, 48, 67, 68, 69, 70, 81, 83, 95, 99, 100, 127, 128
Carbon 2 7, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 21, 22, 24, 108, 110, 111, 114, 118, 124, 125, 128, 130
Natrona 2 7, 16, 19, 22, 23, 33, 48, 120, 122, 128, 129
Sheridan 2 2, 36, 37, 38, 129

 

Wyoming's top Boone & Crockett producing
counties since 2010 for nontypical elk

County No. of
entries
Areas found
within county
Big Horn 1 39, 40, 41, 45, 54, 66
Park 1 5153, 54, 55, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 6366

Top 10 B&amp;C typical elk locations since 2010 - Wyoming 2018 app strategy

This year, Wyoming bumped ahead of Colorado for the third most typical elk entries since 2010.

Trending bull:cow ratio areas

You have probably noticed that we provide data on bull to cow ratios for each hunt area in Wyoming. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. A higher bull to cow ratio may indicate a hunt area that could have a higher availability of mature bulls compared to an area with a lower bull to cow ratio. This doesn’t always indicate that the bulls will be the highest scoring bulls, but more bulls equate to more bulls to find and harvest. When selecting an area, or comparing several areas, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in depth.

The interesting discovery is that the top areas with the highest bull:cow ratios are not strictly found in the top trophy producing areas. Several of these top bull:cow ratio areas are also available to hunt with a general license. All of this information can be obtained and sorted in Filtering 2.0. These are some serious sleeper areas to consider!

Top Wyoming areas for bull:cow ratios

Area Bull:Cow
Ratio
Limited Quota General Both
Area 51 80:100 X    
Area 53 80:100 X    
Area 54 80:100 X    
Area 22 60:100 X    
Area 111 60:100 X    
Area 100 52:100 X    
Area 55 48:100 X    
Area 56 48:100     X
Area 59 48:100     X
Area 60 48:100     X
Area 6 48:100     X
Area 58 48:100 X    
Area 61 48:100 X    

 



The points system

Wyoming works on preference points, not bonus points. You gain one point for every year you are unsuccessfully in the draw. Even if you miss the application deadline for licenses, you can purchase a point for $50 from July 2 to October 31. The maximum number of points for elk is 12 going into 2018. Keep in mind that the youth preference point fee for elk is $10. This is a great state to start building points for a young hunter.

Wyoming Elk preference point totals 2018 draw

Total number of elk preference points in 2018: 292,800
Total Number of elk preference points in 2017: 250,540

Total Elk preference point totals at each level 2018 draw

There was a 14.5% increase in total preference points from 2017 to 2018. In the last two years there has been a total of 31.8% increase in total preference points.

Residents: Wyoming residents draw process is 100% random for deer, elk, and antelope. There are no preference points for residents. It’s basically a raffle with fairly good odds. You might have 200 people applying for 100 tags. All residents can purchase OTC general elk licenses starting in July.

Managing points and expectations

Find your draw odds

Wyoming elk is the first application out of the gate every year. It should be noted once again that you cannot return a Wyoming license. If you are planning on another hunt that would conflict with a Wyoming elk hunt you might consider purchasing a preference point during the July to October point only time frame.

Drawing a general season elk license as a 2nd choice was not possible in 2017, even in the special draw all the licenses went to 1st choice applicants. For 2018, it’s been surmised that the hefty cost increase of the special license may cause the general elk license odds to once again slide to a point where they may be available as a 2nd choice or at least a guarantee with 0 points. It might take a year to tease that out, but if you have the money and time in 2018 it would not hurt to include the general season license as a 2nd choice in the special draw. We do not believe the odds for the regular general season, limited quota or the other special limited quota hunts to change all that much. If anything, some of the mid-tier limited quota special draw hunt areas may become easier to draw as applicants switch to hunt areas that offer a better hunt for the money should they draw a random permit.

I have 0 points. What can I expect?

You have a few options. One, you can swing for the fence and apply for the best hunt available that has a random permit(s) available and hope luck is on your side. Obviously, the odds of drawing one of those is very low, but there is a chance. Two, by using Filtering 2.0 and the Unit Profiles you can look for hunt areas that have better random draw odds. Applying for and hunting these types of areas will likely require the assistance of a guide or you’ll need to dig in and do some real research into public/private land access. Three, apply for the general season license in the regular or special if you can afford it. Odds for the regular draw were 14% with 0 points last year and 30% with 0 points in the special draw. Keep in mind that in 2016, the general tag was 100% odds at zero points in the special draw, so points creep may continue.

What can I do with 3 to 8 points?

If you are near the bottom end of this range, you might strongly consider the regular general season license as your first choice. That might sound crazy, but with the cost of the special license jumping to $1,335 (with all fees) we believe you’ll see more applicants moving into this draw. In addition, the trophy potential for limited quota hunt areas that you could draw with this level of points is often very comparable to the general areas. If you draw a general tag you can hunt any of the hunt areas for general tags vs if you draw a limited quota tag you must hunt that area alone.

If you continue to build points, point creep is bad enough that you are highly unlikely to ever catch the good areas/hunts. If you are satisfied with having some chance for the better permits, stay on the course and apply for those, but odds are very low. You may also consider going on a guided hunt in one of predominantly wilderness areas in the northwest part of the state. Many of those have Type 9 or general seasons that have very good trophy potential and harvest success rates.

For other options, you can review the tables above, or use Filtering 2.0 and the standalone Draw Odds pages to find hunts available in that point range.

What can I expect with 9 or 10 points?

If you find yourself at the top of the point heap you can review the HITLIST above and apply for the hunt that best suits your objectives. Even though you are in the top point pool you’ll see that the best hunts are still not guaranteed. In fact, the best of the top tier areas have odds that are less than 10% even with max points. The options are to stay on the course and cross your fingers or look for the next best thing.

A lot of the next best options are hunts that will require a guide or some real research and willingness to access tough to reach country in wilderness areas. A few examples of these types of hunt areas are Areas: 7-1, 16-2, 19-1, 51-1, 54-2&9, 61-1, 64-2, 114-1, 118-1. The trophy potential is equal to the points required to draw these, but as previously noted, there are some logistics that will have to be considered to make one of these hunts work.

The best do-it-yourself options are: Hunt Areas: 1-1, 35-1, 38-9, 39-9, 45-1&9, 49-1, 61-2 and 62-1. Most of these hunt areas will not offer the trophy potential that most applicants were hoping for at that point level, but they are the best mix of public access and trophy potential for your points.

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